British Cockades

The cockade of Great Britain has been the Hanovarian black since the reign of the first King George. "In the Georgian days, when the troops wore the old three-cornered hats, these required, for the purpose of aiming along the musket, that the left side should be looped up, and this was done by a brooch. Anyone who has ever looked at a soldier's uniform knows how every opportunity is taken of using the Royal Crown and cypher and badges, and the brooch at the side was no exception to this rule. In fact, the whole Royal Shield, surrounded by the Garter and surmounted by the Crown, shows, if silhouetted, the basis of the fan-shaped military cockade, and it was this metal ornament at the side of the three-cornered hat that was the original of our cockade.

"The white cockade of ribbon being the badge of the Jacobites, [the Stuarts] the black metal brooch-ornament, which, as part of their uniform all the Royal troops wore, very naturally was accepted as the badge of the other side, and, without any formal intention and certainly without the slightest regulation or initiation for that object, it became 'the black cockade of Hanover.'"
The Genealogical Magazine, Volume 5, 1902

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Scottish Cockades

The Stuarts' claim to the British throne came through their royal ancestry in the House of York. The symbol of York is a white rose. When Bonnie Prince Charlie lead the final attempt to regain the throne for the Stuarts, it is said that he put a white rose in his hat. After that, his followers adopted the white rose-like cockade to wear in their Scotch bonnets.

It is thought that the fact that the French were involved in Prince Charlie's cause may also have led to the adoption of the white cockade. France's national cockade at the time of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 was white.

Though the Stuart rebellion failed, the white cockade has continued to be associated with Scottish history.

Scottish Cockades

Irish Cockades

When Prince William of Orange gained the throne of England and Ireland in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he brought his orange cockades with him. But William was Protestant and many of the Catholic Irish preferred to follow the deposed King James Stuart. James's forces came to be identified with green, as William's were with orange.

But it wasn't until Ireland seceded from Great Britain in 1916 that the two colors were paired together along with white, creating the Irish tricolor.

Irish Cockades

Left: A white royalist cockade - Right: The new tricolor cockade

French Cockades

The cockade of France was traditionally white (based on the "lilies of France). But in 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille and released its prisoners. After this opening action of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette suggested that the colors of Paris, red and blue, be paired with the royal color of white to form a new national cockade.

The tricolor eventually became a symbol of the new republican regime and was worn by men, women and children. It came to the United States when Americans wore it in sympathy with the revolution's early ideals of freedom and equality.

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French Cockades

An 1832 German cockade

German Cockades

German states have existed in the area of Germany for nearly two thousand years. Cockade designs were eventually created for each German state and remained a method of identification even after the modern German nation was formed. The national cockade is now black, red and gold, and is often paired with the person's particular state cockade. 

"Black, with some distinction, enters into the cockades of the German nations. The Austrian is black and yellow; the Prussian, black and white; the Hanovarian, black. After the German war of liberation in 1813, a national cockade of black, red, and gold came into general use, and was afterwards assumed by the military and by officials. The wearing of these German cockades was prohibited in 1832, by a resolution of the German Diet; but in 1848 they were again introduced, not only by patriots as a badge of German union, but into the armies." - Chambers Encyclopedia

A World War II Italian cockade

Italian Cockades

According to official histories, the Italian tricolor first appeared on November 14, 1794, when two students of Bologna, Giovanni Battista De Rolandis and Luigi Zamboni led an uprising against the Austrian absolutist power. As an emblem of the rebellion they chose the cockade of the Paris revolution, but distinguished it with blue instead of green.

Two years later, Napoleon approved the colors for the national cockade as well as the national flag. “Since they [the two students] chose these three colors, so let them be.” The official Italian cockade has been red, white and green ever since. 
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Italian Cockades

Dutch Cockades

The ruling House of Orange in the Netherlands historically wore the orange cockade. Though the orange cockade was retired for a period of twenty years under Bonaparte's dictatorship, an 1841 history of Europe tells us the following:

"At Amsterdam, the [French] troops were no sooner gone than the inhabitants rose in insurrection, deposed the Imperial authorities, hoisted the orange flag, and established a provisional government, with a view to the re-establishment of the ancient order of things…the people every where, amidst cries of  'Orange Boven!' and universal rapture, mounted the orange cockade, and reinstated the ancient authorities; and after twenty years of foreign domination and suffering, the glorious spectacle was exhibited, of a people peacefully regaining their independence, and not shedding a drop of blood, and, without either passion or vengeance, reverting to the institutions of former times."